By James Emejo in Abuja

Mercy Corps and MasterCard have said they target to register 18, 000 young girls and women in Nigeria to receive a NeID card, to help provide access to their first formal identity and basic financial services.
Under the landmark initiative, over 2,000 young women have gone through the Mercy Corps/ MasterCard programme while more than 6,000 participants from across Mercy Corps programmes have been registered for the multi-functional eID card. About 100 participants have already received their card.

Speaking in Abuja during a stakeholders’ meeting of Nigeria’s financial inclusion pioneers organised by Mercy Corps and MasterCard to experience sharing among key actors working together to advance financial literacy and inclusion for youth across the country, Nigeria Country Director for Mercy Corps, Iveta Ouvry said: “By connecting young women with resources and education to boost their financial literacy, leadership skills and economic opportunities, we can help them see that a bright future is possible. Adolescent girls play a key role in transforming their communities and countries for good, which is why we’re focused on empowering this key demographic.”

Already, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) had acknowledged the impact being made by the global organisation Mercy Corps and MasterCard, highlighting the role of the National eID (NeID) card in empowering those previously excluded from the formal financial system.
Vice President and Area Business Head, West Africa, MasterCard, Omokehinde Adebanjo said: “We realise that to truly empower impoverished communities here in Nigeria and around the world we need to empower women through financial inclusion,”  “Lack of identity is a critical barrier for women seeking to vote, own property or open a bank account. Together, we are making a real difference in these women’s lives and encourage an entrepreneurial spirit through the training.”

He said MasterCard hopes to create long lasting solutions to reduce poverty in Nigeria, adding that “In support of the Cashless Nigeria policy, we have seen great progress, however, challenges still exist. Our partnerships have been the key in overcoming these challenges. We remain committed to moving towards a world beyond cash by implementing new payment solutions and our partnership with Mercy Corps is testament to this.”

According to the World Bank, only 47per cent of women worldwide have access to formal financial institutions, compared to 51 percent of men, and more than 1.3 billion women are excluded from the formal financial system. In Africa more than 70per cent of women are excluded from formal financial services.
Globally, nearly 2.4 billion people live without any form of official personal identification, and the majority of them are women.

The MasterCard-funded Accelerating Savings and Strengthening Entrepreneurship Training and Skills (ASSETS) programme which is implemented by Mercy Corps further seeks to improve the lives of young women by connecting them to financial literacy and entrepreneurship training and financial services. Programme participants are registered to receive a NeID, which in turn is linked to a mobile savings account.